52% intelligent. 9% modest. More monkey than bear.

Friday, April 29, 2005

If anyone's asking did you get a rush? there's no point in asking; it wasn't enough


Usually in this slot, I spend a bit of time running you down on my earworms of the week - the tunes that have sunk into my cranium and are refusing to leave. There aren't really any rules, but I try to make sure that they are genuinely songs that I have caught myself humming during the week, and not just songs that I like and want to tell you lot that I like.

In the course of a normal week, I hear music from all over the place. We all do. Adverts and theme tunes from the TV, jingles and singles on the radio, from someone else's car at the traffic lights.... Sometimes a song can worm its way into your head without even being played, through some kind of process of association; a particular combination of words in the book you are reading (or blog **cough cough**) might bring to mind a song lyric (Fox has started"No More Heroes" by the Stanglers running round my head on a permanent loop this afternoon because of a comment made in the post below).

Sometimes these songs get in for no apparent reason at all (and aren't they just the most annoying ones? especially when you catch yourself humming something really embarrassing).

I've noticed that quite a lot of you appear to be interested in music, so I thought it might be interesting to turn this feature over to a guest from time to time, so we can get away from what's on my iPod and in my head, and get some insight into someone else's mental state for a change.

So without further ado, it is with great pleasure that I hand the keys of this blog over to Flash... over to you Flash......

Earworms of the Week - Guest Editor #1 -- Flash

Hello folks, Flash here.

May I first say how truly honoured I am to have been chosen for this auspicious occasion:
The inaugural session of...SwissToni's "Celebrity" earworms!

What's that?
Guest earworms?

10. 'Road to Joy' - Bright eyes
An album I'm not really sure about yet, but this one got stuck in the old bonce.

9. 'King Without a Crown' - ABC
Just a truly fantastic song that's popped up a couple of times of late.

8. 'Rewind'- Stereophonics
Whisper it quietly, the phonics are good again! Almost picked "Doorman" where Mr.Jones hollers "suck my banana".


7. 'Hurt' - Re-flex
You may remember this lot from 1984 minor hit "The politics of dancing". This tune off the album of the same name had been lost in vinyl hell. After 10 years away I have it back.
Thank god for WinMX!

6. 'Blue Orchid' - The White Stripes
Jack n Meg back, yay! Still sounding ace, double yay!

5. 'Day Old Blues' - Kings of Leon
So there I am halfway through my first listen of their "A-ha shake heartbreak"* album & I'm thinking: I like the songs & the sound of it all but I don't like the ways he sings much. Then he sings: "Boys won't like the way I sing"! and starts yodelling! Marvellous!

*named after condition suffered by thousands of teenage girls in the presence of Morten Harkett & his pop pals back in the 80's

4. 'Jingle Jangle' - Hot Hot Heat
Does exactly what it says on the tin. [Flash - is this a tribute to Jimmy Saville? ST]

3. 'Richard III' - Supergrass
Oh those were the days. Excellent dirty guitar stomping monster of a tune with one of the finest "Whooo"s in the history of music.

2. 'Time is running out' - Muse
Exhilarating plus it gives me the chance to click my fingers, a "skill" that took me 33 years to acquire. Really.

1. 'Please stand up' - British Sea Power
A true earworm, the one that's taken up the lion's share of my head space. Initial highlight of new album "Open season" & forthcoming single. It's catchy but cool, which will do nicely, ta.


so there you go - thanks Flash! If all goes well, we'll have another guest earwormer in the next few weeks - perhaps this time one with wildly different tastes in music to me & Flash, eh?


Actually, Flash has reminded me about something I was reading the other day about the 'shuffle' function on the iPod. Apparently some people have decided that their iPod has a personality, and shows a distinct preference for some tunes over others, and that life isn't so random after all. The NY Times goes on about this at some length.

Whilst desperately wanting to dismiss these people as the geeks they clearly are... I have to tell you that I have sometimes wondered this myself. I have 4918 songs on my iPod now, and it definitely has a soft spot for "Such a Twat" by the Streets.

Maybe it's trying to tell me something?

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Valhalla! I am coming!

Until the election got all nasty and personal this week , the one issue that seemed to concern everyone was immigration. The "man on the street", "white van man" and all the other made up demographics appeared to be worried. I even saw an Asian businessman on the news the other day expressing his concern and suggesting that enough was enough, which seemed a touch ironic....

It is the Conservatives who have gone for this issue in the biggest way, with Michael Howard insisting that it is not racist to openly discuss and tackle the issue:

"I'm not going to let the Government sweep this under the carpet anymore. Britain has reached a turning point. We need to control and limit immigration...people [he actually said 'peeee-puuule'] have a very clear choice at this election. Vote Conservative to limit and control immigration, or vote Mr Blair or the Liberal Democrats for no limits to immigration and an increase in the population by five million over the next three decades."

According to the Conservatives, immigration has tripled under this Labour government, over 150,000 people now settle annually, while Whitehall's own predictions show that the population will grow by six million over the next thirty years.

"Five million of that will be due to immigration - that's five times the population of Birmingham. Our asylum system is being abused - and with it Britain's generosity. And there are over a quarter of a million failed asylum seekers living in Britain today," claimed Michael Howard.

it's all over their manifesto too. A Conservative government would:
  • Introduce an annual limit on immigration, set by Parliament (they do not specify the limit)
  • Introduce 24 hour security at ports to prevent illegal immigration
  • Set up a dedicated border police
  • Introduce an Australian-style points system for awarding work permits and giving priority to people with skills
  • Take in genuine refugees from the United Nations, rather than accepting those that are smuggled into the country
  • Set up health checks for all immigrants (because they are riddled with disease, right Mr. Howard?)
Hmmm. Lots of headlines and not much substance. What about the Labour Party?

"Labour believes in a fair, fast and firm asylum and immigration system together with controlled economic migration, fulfilling the needs of our economy. Britain has a valuable tradition of offering a safe haven to those genuinely fleeing persecution. We are proud of that tradition but we cannot tolerate abuse of our asylum system. To stop abuse, we have enhanced our border security and have taken action to tackle illegal working, people smuggling and trafficking".

Okay. At least they bother to make the point that some immigrants make a positive contribution - something the Conservatives don't much bother with. What else?
  • Asylum claims cut by 70% since 2002
  • Visa restrictions imposed on some countries (presumably bandit states like the USA?)
  • More Immigration officers, more lorry checks at ports, more fencing around the Channel Tunnel etc. etc.
  • Failed asylum seeker and illegal immigrant "removals" doubled since 1997 (are they 'removed' by a cleaner like Harvey Keitel in Pulp Fiction, do you think?)
  • Fair and firm decisions, with 84% of initial decisions on asylum cases made within 2 months, compared to an average of 20 months when Michael Howard was Home Secretary (snigger snigger)
So far, so defending their own record on this in Government. What about policies moving forwards?
  • An Identity Card scheme (ah yes! the answer to all our problems...)
  • Electronic tagging
  • A points system
  • Only skilled workers allowed to settle permanently
  • Language tests
So far, so like the Tories.

Crucially though, they add two more points. The Labour party will:
  • Continue to make the case for migration as an important contribution to the UK, while countering those who stir up hatred, intolerance and prejudice.
  • Help those who settle in Britain play a full part in being a citizen by helping them with language and knowledge of UK life, so furthering social cohesion.
It's almost an afterthought, but at least Labour have taken the trouble to nod their heads towards the long tradition of immigration that this country has had, and the contribution that many of those immigrants have made to British society.... Unlike the Tories, who have chosen to focus on slogans at the expense of any substance or solutions.

Immigration: bad
Control of Immigration: good

The Liberal Democrats, bless them, don't make much of a headline issue about immigration at all.

But where's the truth in all of this? Immigration is clearly an election issue, but is it actually an issue?

I've written about this before, but although Britain is at the top of the table in terms of asylum applications, but we are hardly talking about hundreds of thousands of people:

1. Britain -> 61,100 (mainly from Somalia, Iraq, China, Zimbabwe, Iran & Turkey)
2. USA -> 60,700 (China, Colombia, Mexico, Haiti, Indonesia)
3. France -> 59,800 (Turkey, China, DR Congo, Russian Federation, Algeria)
4. Germany -> 50,600 (Turkey, Serbia & Montenegro, Iraq, Russian Federation, China)
5. Austria -> 32,400 (Russian Federation, Turkey, India, Serbia & Montenegro, Afghanistan)
6. Canada -> 31,900 (Pakistan, Mexico, Colombia, China, Costa Rica)

Source: UNHCR 2003

The Home Office tells us that in 2003, the UK allowed 139, 675 people the right to stay. 66,000 of those were joining their families, 29,000 were allowed to stay after working in the country, and 21,000 were asylum cases. So from the 61,100 cases, we allowed 21,000 to stay.

My aren't we generous? (and not exactly the floods of people the Tories are talking about either)

In a report published in March 2005, the UNHCR claimed that the number of asylum seekers coming into the industrialised world fell by 20% in 2004 to its lowest level in the last 16 years.

"In most industrialised countries, it should simply not be possible to claim that there is a huge asylum crisis any more", said Raymond Hall, the head of the UN refugee agency's Europe bureau. Arrivals in the UK in 2004 fell by 33% compared with an EU average drop of 19%.

If you cut the data in a slightly different way, and look at the number of arrivals as a proportion of the number of inhabitants, the country with the biggest problem is.... Cyprus... with 12.4 asylum seekers per 1000 residents. By this measure the UK is languishing down in 15th place, with 0.7 per 1000 residents, fractionally above the EU average. What's more, in 2004 France became the largest receiving nation.

Crisis? What crisis? Asylum seekers aren't even rolling across France in the bed to get to the UK any more, for heaven's sake! Britain may be second only to the USA in terms of asylum applications, but in terms of the numbers of people admitted, we are no more welcoming than anybody else.

So what's the story? Why is this such a big issue for people?

Isn't it obvious? It's because we are an inherently racist nation and the politicans are playing on this to try and win votes. Is there another explanation?

What about the vile racists at the British National Party? What do they have to say on this issue?

"On current demographic trends, we, the native British people, will be an ethnic minority in our own country within sixty years. To ensure that this does not happen, and that the British people retain their homeland and identity, we call for an immediate halt to all further immigration, the immediate deportation of criminal and illegal immigrants, and the introduction of a system of voluntary resettlement whereby those immigrants who are legally here will be afforded the opportunity to return to their lands of ethnic origin assisted by a generous financial incentives both for individuals and for the countries in question. We will abolish the 'positive discrimination' schemes that have made white Britons second-class citizens. We will also clamp down on the flood of 'asylum seekers', all of whom are either bogus or can find refuge much nearer their home countries."

They certainly go further than any of the mainstream political parties, but are they not simply taking these policies to a logical extreme? Why stop at limiting the number of people who come in? Why not take the immigrants who are already here and send them back too? Frankly, as policies go, it's not different enough to some of the things the mainstream parties are saying, is it?

It's here that those two little extra points that the Labour party make in their manifesto become crucial, and what lifts them away from the Tories on this issue:

The Labour party will:
  • Continue to make the case for migration as an important contribution to the UK, while countering those who stir up hatred, intolerance and prejudice.
  • Help those who settle in Britain play a full part in being a citizen by helping them with language and knowledge of UK life, so furthering social cohesion.
It's not much, but it is something. Labour are making big headline statements about how they are controlling immigration, but I think that at heart, a lot of this is simply a response to the Tories (immigration is the only issue, the ONLY issue, where the Conservatives are polling ahead of the Labour party, so it's hardly surprising that it's all they talk about).

Make no mistake about it, the Conservative Party are targeting the same basic instinct in people as the BNP.... they should be ashamed of themselves, and we should all be scandalised.

Immigration is a serious issue, not a cheap political football.

Cry shame and vote for someone else next week.


And don't be thinking this is an endorsement of the Labour party either --- it turns out that the Attorney General told Tony Blair that he thought that a war on Iraq without a second UN resolution would be illegal.... This opinion was never shared by Blair with the Cabinet, and 10 days later the Attorney General had mysteriously changed his mind, and his views were being used by the Government to prove that the war was legal, and was presented to Parliament by Jack Straw as "unequivocal" advice.

Tony Blair may have agonised about the decision, and he clearly believes that the removal of Saddam was a good thing, that the ends justified the means.... but it's also clear that the war on Iraq illegal, that we had no justification to be there, and that we have no exit strategy as more people - civilian and military - are dying.

Cry shame and vote for someone else next week.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

I don't believe in Peter Pan, Frankenstein or Superman

Time for a quick triathlon update, I think:

As most of you will know, I am competing in the London Triathlon this August as part of Team Ultimate Olympian -- which consists of me and John -- with the aim of raising money for the Sobell House Hospice.

Training is coming on, and with more than 3 months to go, my current schedule looks something like this:

Monday: rest
Tuesday: 25km cycle, 6km run
Wednesday: 58 minute swim
Thursday: 90 minutes of 5-a-side football (in lieu of a short run)
Friday: rest
Saturday: 58 minute run
Sunday: 30km cycle & a quick 500m run to stretch the legs

And this basically ramps up by 10% a week until the big day.

It's very tiring you know, and I haven't yet quite worked out what I'm going to do when I go to South Korea for a couple of weeks in 10 days time (a holiday! hurray!). I'll take my running shoes, I think.


There's been an [cough cough] exciting development too.... I'm buying a new bike!

I currently own a pretty heavy, cheap mountain bike. Despite only costing me £100, and clearly not being designed for road racing, this bike has seen me through three sprint triathlons. Admittedly, in all three of those races, I have gone past about two people during the cycle stage (and the chain had come off one of those), but it did the job.

Having resigned myself to the fact that nobody I know is likely to have a racing bike big enough for me to borrow, and being too tight to buy a new bike, I was sort of hoping that I would be able to use this bike in August... the London Triathlon has a 40km cycle stage....

Sadly it looks like I was being a bit optimistic. The front wheel is buckled, the brakes are cheap and nasty and, judging from the terrible grinding noise they make, the gears are about to die too.

New bike it is then.

I'm going for this one. It's what they call an "entry level" road bike, which means that it is as cheap as chips (well, at £249, it's a big step up for me on the bike buying front), but apparently it's quite good, inasmuch as I know anything about this sort of thing.

And that's all I plan to say about it, because it's pretty dull really (although I'm strangely excited about it).

I'm not doing this purely for my own gratification though, and as soon as we have set up a proper online sponsorship page, I'll be coming to you lot with my cap in hand and badgering you for money....

Just so you know.....

It's a very good cause though. Go and look at their website if you don't believe me.

Normal service will be resumed tomorrow........

Monday, April 25, 2005

Used, abused without clues, I refused to blow a fuse - they even had it on the news **

The British General Election is now only two weeks away. Although we had a lengthy "phony war" in the run up to the official announcement, we've only actually had two weeks of campaigning, and there are another two weeks to go. In other words, we're halfway through.

I consider myself to be a reasonably well-informed person:
  • I read a newspaper every Sunday
  • I check websites for news several times a day (mainly the BBC and the Guardian)
  • I watch the news on TV two or three times a week
  • I watch Newsnight once or twice a week
  • I listen to Radio 5 Live for a couple of hours every day (and not just for the sport, either)
  • and of course, I read lots of blogs, some of which talk about politics... from time to time
As you might have noticed, I have one or two opinions. I have voted in every election since I turned 18, and I am sufficiently politicised to have written to my MP and been pleased to receive a lengthy and quite detailed reply.

So how come I hardly know anything about this election?

I've had one leaflet through my door (from Ken Clarke - I noticed that he kept all mention of Michael Howard to an absolute minimum). No one has been round.

There are a couple of massive billboards on the way to work, and over the last couple of weeks they have featured a number of electoral posters. Funnily enough (given my intense dislike of them), it's been the Conservative posters that have stuck in my mind. First we had the immigation poster, then the "you want five more years of this?" poster, and today I noticed they had opted for a clearly photo-shopped Blair with a rictus grin. It's good that they have focused on their own policies, isn't it? There was a Liberal Democrat poster there for a while; I can't remember what it's point was, although it had a big picture of Charles Kennedy and them proposing and opposing something or other. Finally, today I spotted a Labour poster for the first time - it was totally unmemorable.

Until I looked it up the other day, apart from Ken Clarke, I didn't even know who else was standing in my constituency. If I had wanted to vote tactically to try and unseat Ken, I had no idea who the second placed party were likely to be, and where my vote might be of the most use.

Why is this?

Apparently Rushcliffe is Labour target seat 53, and Liberal Democrat target seat 216. Ken Clarke's majority is 7,357 (which in itself was up from 5,055 in 1997 - which you imagine is as close as Labour are ever likely to get as long as there is breath in the old boy's body. In the Tory salad days of the 1980s, the majority here was more than 20,000).

So the bottom line, and the reason that I haven't had anyone standing on my doorstep or pushing any leaflets through my letterbox is that the major parties don't much care about Rushcliffe, and certainly aren't in a hurry to spend any money here. No-one has troubled to ask me if I have made up my mind, or if I might like to consider casting my vote for them, because they don't care. This isn't a marginal seat and it has a popular and well-known MP who is very unlikely to lose his seat. That's it.

When the votes are counted on election night, Rushcliffe will be "held" by the Conservatives.

So what price my vote?

If I lived somewhere like:

Dumfries & Galloway (Lab majority 0.3%)
Dorset South (Lab majority 0.3%)
Boston & Skegness (Con majority 1.3%)
Cheadle (Lib Dem majority 0.1%)
Taunton (Con majority 0.4%)

I'd be fighting people off my doorstep because my vote could really make a difference.

In Rushcliffe? Nah.... not bothered.

Not much incentive to get off my arse and vote is it? It's easy to understand why turnouts are low and have been shrinking.

Fear not, dear reader!

I will not be brushed aside by anyone as a "couldn't be bothered to vote" statistic. If I decide that I am not going to cast a positive vote this time, then dammit, I'm going to take the Montgomery Brewster approach and I'm going to get off my arse and vote for "none of the above". And as that isn't actually an option on the ballot paper (and it bloody well should be), then I'll write a pithy message to the government on what I think of the First Past the Post electoral system.

Or I'll just write some rude words.


** post title courtesy of YokoSpungeon, as her prize for being joint-winner in the poster competition. Very apt it is too. Well done kiddo!

I'll catch and save them in a jar

No day can ever be said to be totally wasted when you have bought a tent that you can pitch in 2 seconds.


Saturday, April 23, 2005

the bell that rings inside your mind

Derren Brown - "Something Wicked This Way Comes"
Birmingham Alexandra Theatre 24/4

Derren Brown is, according to his website:

"a unique force in the world of illusion - he can seemingly predict and control human behaviour.

He doesn't claim to be a mind-reader, instead he describes his craft as a mixture of magic, suggestion, psychology, misdirection and showmanship.

Whatever you choose to call it, his unparalleled performances amaze and unsettle all those who watch him. This is a powerful and provocative form of entertainment, unlikely to be imitated for a long while."

What did I think?

I thought he was really good, but I'm finding it hard to recall specifics.

Maybe all he did was turn up on stage, spend 5 minutes putting the whole audience into a trance, told us we would wake up thinking he was great, and then spent the next 2 hours reading a book*

Then again, that would be pretty impressive anyway, wouldn't it?


In other news, I bought some more Tim-Tams in town today, and after dinner this evening, I enjoyed a Chewy Choc Fudge Tim-Tam Slam. Nice.

I also watched "The Sting" and realised how much Hustle owes to this film. For one episode in particular, they should have been paying royalties.... blatant.


* with apologies to Kenny Craig

Friday, April 22, 2005

if you could see it then you'd understand

and so to the results of the Tory Poster competition.

We have a tie at the top! Statue John's "I don't wanna vote for you, you're covered in bees" and Yoko's "daddy or chips?" have both received 4 votes apiece. They're both such fine efforts, that I don't really want to split them, and I can't be arsed with a tie-breaker anyway, so I hereby declare them both winners.

Thanks to everyone for your entries - they were excellent. If the winners could drop me a line, then we can sort out their prize --the honour of choosing the title for a post on this blog -- , which I will try to make sure gets posted up here in the next week.

A special word here for Des and his much lauded "spoons" effort (which, if my memory serves me correctly, is actually a tribute to a certain Patrick Lo and an incident that took place at school in about 1991). Nice work, my friend. Also nice work for responding to a question about your plans for the weekend with the following:

"am off home to hook up all my toys to the great big f*ck off screen. i have no curtains and cant move in this wk end yet, but as long as i can get to play mario who will be almost as big as me...i'm good"

(thanks to Statue John for sharing that little gem)

And so to this week's earworms.

Quite a lot of new release material in there this week:

10. 'Negotiate with Love' - Rachel Stevens
Because it struck me when I heard this on the radio the other day that you don't hear the word 'negotiate' used in songs very often, do you?

9. 'Til I die' - The Beach Boys
This is buried deep on "Surf's Up", but is one of the most gorgeous things they ever did. Brian Wilson is at Glastonbury this year, and I really, really want to see him.

8. 'Substitute' - The Who
Because it's genius, from the first chopping guitar riff to the last.

7. 'Oh What A World' - Rufus Wainwright
The fact that this is now in my head is probably a delayed reaction from seeing him live last week... Men reading fashion magazines?

6. 'The Street Where You Live' - Vic Damone
One of those songs that makes me want to sing whenever I hear it. Luckily, as I was at work when this popped on the other day, I was able to resist...

5. 'Where's Your Head At?' - The Basement Jaxx
catchy tune, but makes me have nightmares about monkeys for some reason....

4. 'Reel Around the Fountain' - The Smiths
The "hatful of hollow" version of this popped up out of the 5000 odd songs on my iPod when I was listening on shuffle the other day at work, which was nice.

3. 'Best of You' - Foo Fighters.
Dave Grohl now officially better than Kurt Cobain.

2. 'Blue Orchid' - The White Stripes
When a drummer and a guitarist can sound this good, it makes you wonder why anyone bothers having anyone else in their band. The White Stripes ROCK.

1. 'Speed of Sound' - Coldplay
It's a bit obvious, perhaps, but I loved it from the first listen. Apparently they chose this as a single as the best bridge between the old material and the new. I can't wait for the album, and I'm seeing them twice in the summer as well. Nice.


"Look into the eyes, the eyes. Not around the eyes, into the eyes"

I'm off to see Derren Brown in Birmingham tonight.... more tomorrow, I guess

Thursday, April 21, 2005

nothing more to say, no more ace to play

Okay - you may remember that a few days ago I ran a little competition to see if we could create a more compelling election campaign poster than the Conservative Party.

You appear to have excelled yourselves.

Have a look at the entries below, and then I think we should have an open forum on which one is your favourite. The winner will then have the honour of naming a post on this website (in the house style, obviously - no purchase required, terms and conditions may apply, see website for details).

Entry#1 YokoSpungeon

Entry#2 Lord Bargain

Entry #3 Red One

Entry #4 Andy

Entry#5 Des

Entry#6 Lord Bargain

Entry#7 Statue John

Entry#8 Retro-Boy

Entry#9 SwissToni

Entry#10 Michael Howard

Let democracy decide who the winner will be...... will you be thinking what I'm thinking?

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

this could be the very minute I'm aware I'm alive

Forget the Pope, let's talk about more serious matters:

I had my first 'Tim Tam Slam' yesterday.... oh my God.... my world has changed immeasurably for the better.

Let me explain.

The Tim Tam is Australia's favourite biscuit - they sell about 30 million packs per year - two for every Australian. I suppose you could say that it's sort of like a Penguin, only a bit smaller and a bit lighter... here's a comparative review from "A Nice Cup of Tea and a Sit Down". They come in a variety of flavours, and they're delicious. I was introduced to them by an Australian colleague of mine, who insisted that I brought a whole load back for her when I was over there last January. Naturally I was curious enough to try them, and I was soon hooked. I pretty much left all of my belongings in Australia and filled my bag with Tim Tams. I have subsequently discovered that you can buy them in some places in the UK as well, most notably in Tesco.

I first read about the 'Tim Tam Slam' after Statue John & The Pollstar's Xmas party in the "nice cup of tea and a sit down" book. Here's how you do it:

1) Grab a cup of tea (or similar beverage)
2) Grab a Tim Tam
3) Nibble off opposite corners of the Tim Tam
4) dunk one end of the Tim Tam into your Tea, and suck through the other end
5) as soon as you feel tea coming through the biscuit and hitting your lips, quickly shovel the whole thing into your mouth before it disintegrates...
6) enjoy an explosion of deliciousness

It is.... amazing.

Thanks to John for telling me that Natalie Imbruglia demonstrated this on the Graham Norton show a couple of years ago, and that you can find pictures and the video clip here. She looks positively orgasmic when she's finished, and once you've tried it, you will too....

Who says nothing good ever came out of Australia? There's two good things in one video clip!

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

so pure in thought and word and deed...

Word quiz - guess which one of these two words doesn't apply to this guy.

1. denoting or relating to the entire body of christians, esp. to the Church before separation into the Greek or Eastern and Latin or Western Churches.
2. denoting or relating to the Latin or Western Church after this separation
3. denoting or relating to the Roman Catholic Church
4. denoting or relating to any church, belief, etc. that claims continuity with or originates in the ancient undivided Church
5. a member of any of the Churches regarded as Catholic, esp. the Roman Catholic Church


1. universal; relating to all men; all-inclusive
2. comprehensive in interests, tastes etc.; broad-minded; liberal [C14: from latin catholicus, from Greek katholikos universal, from katholou in general, from kata - according to + holos whole]

Monday, April 18, 2005

staring at the sea, staring at the sand

the man from Veritas, he say.... NO

And so we come to one of the guiding lights of European politics (and, I'm proud to report, my MEP), Robert Kilroy-Silk.

I was rather hoping that I might get away without writing about him, but then I saw some of his comments at the launch of the Veritas party manifesto. Apparently, multiculturalism (imposed by "the liberal fascists in London") has failed. The idea of respecting the culture of others is "nonsense" and apparently not all cultures are created equal - some are apparently "reprehensible".

That was it, that was the final straw... I was angry.

How can someone in the public eye say stuff like that and get away with it? Aren't there laws against this sort of thing? I think the thing that annoyed me the most was not so much his casual racism, although clearly that's bad enough, but his glib implication that his own culture is superior to all others.

The thing is though, now I sit down to write about it, I can't find these quotes in a single block anywhere - every single article I have looked at is only quoting Kilroy in bits and pieces, and sticking them all together. If I didn't know better, I'd say that the media were putting it together to make the story look more hysterical than it really is, to fit with the image they like to present of a well-groomed, perma-tanned, former MP, former TV personality, Member of the European Parliament, prospective candidate for Parliament and nasty bigot.

So how did we get here?

too orangey for crows.....

In 1974 Kilroy was working as a university lecturer when he stood as the Labour candidate for Ormskirk in Lancashire and was duly elected to Parliament. He later switched seats to Knowsley North following the 1983 Boundary Review, and looked set for the front benches when in 1986 he decided to move into television to host his own TV show.

The programme ran for 17 years. It was on BBC1 at 9am every week day, and although it was junk tv, it was pretty watcheable. The format was hardly original: Kilroy pranced and preened amongst a studio audience armed with a microphone, and hosted a sometimes lively debate on some fairly minor issue or other. The programme always opened with Kilroy posing a couple of almost rhetorical questions, aimed at getting you thinking about the topic they were about to discuss, and always ended with our host winking into the camera and telling us to "Look after each other".

Genius. He was the king of daytime TV, and I didn't even know he had been an MP, and when I found out, I didn't believe it.

Kilroy keeps his eye on the real issues

I'm sure the signs are there if you have the energy to trawl through the thousands and thousands of hours of archive tapes, but to me he never seemed like much of a controversial figure. He was just the smooth, perma-tanned bloke from the telly who was brutally satirised in 2000 by Chris Morris in "Jam", in a sketch that featured a very good Kilroy lookalike running naked through a shopping centre and ends with him pissing against a shop window, his own image flickering on a bank of TVs behind the glass. The sketch was shocking because of the place that Kilroy had as an icon, as a fixed and crucial part of the TV landscape.

The sketch was called "The Day Kilroy Lost His Mind", and things have moved on so far since then, that it now seems almost prophetic. In some ways I could see that same footage again, played on the news as fact, and I wouldn't be altogether surprised.

I love the smell of suntan lotion in the morning

Everything changed in January 2004, when Kilroy decided to use his column in The Sunday Express to share with the world his views on Arabs. You can find the article in full here, but here's the highlight:

"What do they think we feel about them? That we adore them for the way they murdered more than 3,000 civilians on September 11 and then danced in the hot, dusty streets to celebrate the murders? That we admire them for the cold-blooded killings in Mombasa, Yemen and elsewhere? That we admire them for being suicide bombers, limb-amputators, women repressors? I don't think the Arab states should start a debate about what is really loathsome."

This really hit the headlines, and the BBC took his show off the air. Surely that would be that and Kilroy would disappear once and for all?

Apparently not. In a somewhat bizarre change of political affiliation, the former Labour MP quickly resurfaced as a member of the UK Independence Party and stood for election to the European Parliament. These elections do not typically attract much attention from the electorate, but the novelty of having a TV celebrity as a candidate stumped up a bit of extra interest, and Kilroy was duly elected. In spite of this success though, it was not a match made in heaven. As you might have expected from a party whose single policy is to take Britain out of the European Union, Kilroy found he had very little in common with the other misfits in UKIP, and frequently seemed embarrassed by the views of his colleagues. To nobody's great surprise, they soon fell out and he left the party to plough a lone furrow as an Independent. His own party, Veritas, followed, and now we have the prospect of Kilroy standing against the Labour defence minister, Geoff Hoon, in the forthcoming election.

I don't imagine that Kilroy will win a seat at Parliament (and actually, I hope he doesn't), but I don't imagine for one minute that a defeat would mean that we will have seen the end of this remarkable, pompous, vain and ridiculous man.

He says the most ridiculous things. He really does. He's also weirdly orange-looking, so I'm not really sure why the media goes to such lengths to make him look stupid. Surely he does that all by himself?

Is it because he used to work in the media, and has now crossed back to politics?

We're always bemoaning the lack of choice at the ballot paper, so should we not be applauding the foundation of a party that is trying to make a break from the traditional politics of Westminster and tries to represent what people really think? We may not agree with his policies, but should we perhaps give him some credit for trying to do something constructive instead of just criticising the status-quo?


On the other hand, he's a preening, perma-tanned, arrogant egotist who is only really in it for himself. He's drunk on his own publicity and doesn't give a flying toss about the people he wants to vote for him.


What do you think?

Maybe it’s time I found some faith...

The cardinals, the princes of the Catholic Church, are gathering at the Sistine Chapel to begin the conclave that will end with the election of the new Pope, the spiritual leader for billions of people across the whole planet, the person whose word is believed to carry equal weight to the word of God.

How do you apply?

Do you think they're an Equal Opportunities employer?

Is there text voting for the public?

Will there be a nightly highlights programme on Channel 4 ("Day 85: it's raining and Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and Ricardo Maria Carles Gordo, the Archbishop Emeritus of Barcelona, are in the hot tub.") and a live stream on E4?

Perhaps the white smoke will come up, and the Senior Deacon of the College of Cardinals, Jorge Cardinal Medina Estevez from Chile will step out onto the balcony of the Vatican and shouts out "Habemus Papam! It was a close run thing, and Kenzie from Blazin' Squad was unlucky to miss out, but the winner of the Conclave 2005 is..... Germaine Greer!"

Saturday, April 16, 2005

The fourth, the fifth. The minor fall, the major lift

right. earworms of the week - your disturbing insight into the what's going on inside my head:

10. 'Torn' - Natalie Imbruglia
Coincidentally featured in Lord Bargain's top 20 list for 1997. She's shimmeringly beautiful, and clearly has no need for all of those cosmetics she now advertises, being all of about 27. Still, her new record has made me think about her first. It may have been nicked from a Norwegian, but surely she'll never do anything better than this?

9. 'Mr.Brightside' - The Killers
This is the first killers song I heard, and is the one that I keep coming back to. I'm not entirely convinced by the rest of the album, I have to say, but I will give them a look when I'm at Glastonbury.

8. 'Chocolate' - Snow Patrol
My most played album of 2004, and after a short break from them, this was on again in the car on Thursday. I could easily have gone for almost anything off this album, but today, I chose this one.

7. 'The Lost Art Of Keeping a Secret' - Queens of the Stoneage
I went to see QOTSA when they played at Rock City in as part of Radio One's "One Live In Nottingham" thing a couple of year's ago. They were absolutely magnificent, and this was the song that really stood out. Not as ROCK as some of their other stuff, but what a tune. Josh Homme, we saltute you!

6. 'Pistol of Fire' - Kings of Leon
Because it's by a man with big ears and a ridiculous fringe singing about shagging groupies and then wondering why his "pistol" burns when he pees. At least I think that's what he's saying.

5. 'Sunshine of Your Love' - Cream
bar-bar be ba, bar-bam-bam dee DOOOO da

4. 'Evil' - Interpol
I was asked by a colleague at work to check that the audio balance on his iPod was okay... I did so using this song, which we both have in our libraries. Interpol are brilliant and I'm pleased to report that they are playing at Glastonbury in the summer, and I will most certainly be there to watch them again, although as it most likely won't be dark, I am wondering how they will manage to perform without their customary silhouette lighting show.... or as they are most likely all vampires, how they will manage to perform in daylight at all?

3. 'My Lovely Horse' - Father Ted Crilly & Father Dougal MacGuire
Where are you going, with your fetlocks blowing in the wind?

2. 'Jolene' - Dolly Parton
The White Stripes do a pretty mean version of this, but nothing comes close to the original in my books. Please don't take him just because you can: sage advice for anyone.

1. 'Hallelujah' - Jeff Buckley
Rufus Wainwright played a decent enough version of this the other night, but to be honest it only made me think how gorgeous the Jeff Buckley version is (and the John Cale version isn't too shabby either, or Leonard Cohen's original version). I saw Buckley performing this live in the Melody Maker tent at the Reading Festival in 1994. It was a shitty wet day, and I was waiting for Gene to perform. Now I love Gene dearly (and I had to go on my own, none of my mates would come with me), but I have to say that I'm quite glad I saw this vocally gymnastic show-pony in action. Breathtaking. Right from the sigh right at the beginning of this song, through to the plaintiff last chord. Quite possibly one of the most moving pieces of music that I own.


I am playing host the the Ultimate Olympian this weekend. He's up in Nottingham to try out all of the Olympic canoeing and kayaking disciplines with some members of the Great Britain coaching team at the Holmepierrepoint watersports centre. This is something of a local media event, you know.... he's the current star of the BBC Nottingham website (thanks to Phill from 'Danger! High Postage").

I'm supposed to be on camera and camcorder duties, but there is a small danger that I will be roped in to perform at some point.... I imagine that there will be an update on this at some point or other over the weekend.

I bet you can't wait.

You lucky people.

Friday, April 15, 2005

I know that I am up against a mighty mighty man

I mean, how hard can it be to copy a poster campaign that is childishly simple (not to mention simplistic)?

Big up to Statue John for uncovering the website that makes it child's play to take the piss out of the Tories.

How about a competition?

Think of a slogan for a tory poster for their current election campaign, and either stick it in the comments below, or if you are feeling especially creative, mail me the completed poster (email address in my profile).

The best suggestion will get published on here in poster stylee and will also receive a special, extremely prestigious prize.... yes, you get to nominate a heading for the post. You can't say fairer than that, can you?

To get your creative juices flowing, here's what Statue John came up with after his Friday lunchtime pint....

a pint of what he didn't say....

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Now, I don't claim to be an "A" student

And so to the Liberal Democrats.

They are the last of the three major political parties to launch their manifesto** - the delay caused by the birth of Charles Kennedy's first child a couple of days ago. Indeed, the leader was looking more than a little tired and bedraggled at the launch this morning. Part of this is almost certainly due to the presence of the newborn in his house, but I suspect that as a canny politician, he has realised that this rather unique event has generated him an enormous amount of goodwill amongst the electorate, and has cut him an awful lot of slack, and is determined to make the most of it. Is that cynical of me?

So what policies have they come up with to convince us that they are a genuine alternative to Labour and the Conservatives?

Here's our Swiss with a quick reminder:

  • This is a good thing and we are for it
Education & Skills
  • This is also a good thing and we are for this too
  • Furthermore, anyone who is against this is a bad person, and we oppose them
Justice & Crime
  • This one's more tricky
  • We think our position is yes to the former, and no to the latter
  • Is that right?
Economy & Business
  • We don't know much about that, but we do like kittens
  • They're all soft and fluffy
Pensions & Benefits
  • Yes, if you are eligible for them
  • No, if you are not eligible for them
Local Communities
  • Um
  • We think on balance that we agree
International Affairs
  • Crikey, this is hard
  • Can we crib?
Rural Affairs
  • Ah yes, we know about this one
  • We think that voles are a much abused part of rural society. Just because they don't have a vote doesn't mean that they don't matter. They should have more sanctuaries and stuff.
  • Lambs are quite cute aren't they? We like them
  • The wheels on the bus go round and round
  • Round and round
  • Round and round
  • The wheels on the bus go round and round
  • All day long
Better Government
  • Well, the current one's alright, isn't it? We don't mind them really.
  • Although we'd like you to vote for us really
  • But it's up to you, of course
  • Yes
Well, I think you'll agree it makes more sense than anything the Conservatives have come up with, doesn't it?

If you can be bothered, you can find proper analysis here, although I warn you now, even if you do spend the time reading this, Labour still win.



** Veritas also launched their manifesto today. I won't be covering them, although I reserve the right to laugh at them regularly as they discuss their policies - sorry - policy.

wearing tubesocks with style and such an innocent smile

Rufus Wainwright - Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham, Wednesday 14/4

The band came back onto the stage for the encore and launched into "Old Whore's Diet", from the new album "Want Two". Towards the end of the song, Rufus kicked off his shoes to reveal a rather natty pair of striped socks. He then took off his shirt and trousers, revealing that the socks are in fact stockings, and he is wearing some sort of leotard top and a sparkly pair of briefs. A stagehand comes on and hands him a tiara and large pair of wings. The rest of the band have also stripped off and are similarly attired. The song ends, to rapturous acclaim from the audience, who have been eating out of his hand since the first minute. Instead of leaving the stage, the band - still in their pants - don witches hats and capes, and Rufus pops on a pair of red high-heels, and the next song is performed as though by an especially demented Wicked Witch of the West....

Apparently Rufus Wainwright is gay?

Rufus Wainwright is one of those artists whose profile in the music press probably far outweighs their record sales. He has been on dozens of front-covers recently, and has been the recipient of lavish praise from the likes of Elton John ("the best songwriter alive by far") and Neil Tennant ("I can't think of a better songwriter working today than Rufus Wainwright")... and to some extent the impact of this acclaim can be seen in the audience: it is a very mixed crowd, with young hipsters mixing with middle-aged couples and a fair smattering of elderly looking mojo readers (they must have been mojo readers, I can't think why else they might have been there, except that the Beatles broke up a long time ago, and Eric Clapton wasn't playing in the Midlands). I don't think some of them get out very much; towards the end of the concert they were jumping up for standing ovations after every song, which was nice, but good though Rufus was, I don't think they were entirely merited. I saw a similar thing when I went to see Elton John - and spare me the jokes... I've also seen the Pet Shop Boys - wanna make something of it? Anyway, Elton inspired some extremely ill-advised dancing amongst ladies of a certain age. This was similar, only without quite as much dancing.

So was he worth all of the hype? Absolutely. He's a chanteur. A kind of better looking gay Billy Joel, if you can imagine such a thing. Want One and Want Two are a magnificent set of albums, and he was everything I could hope for live. He has a lovely, strong (albeit slightly nasal) voice, and good line in between-song banter (he was very taken with the Robin Hood legend, and seemed to think that the Rufus Oak was in Sherwood Forest). I even think he has the songs to justify some of the praise heaped upon him as a songwriter..."oh what a world", "I don't know what it is", "pretty things", "beautiful child", "the art teacher", "crumb by crumb", "gay messiah".... a particular highlight for me, apart from the ridiculous encore, was his heartfelt tribute to Jeff Buckley, "Memphis Skyline", followed by a lovely version of "Hallelujah", famously performed by Buckley on "Grace".

A fantastic show. As I realised when I was walking back to the car park and saw the baggy-arsed trousered kids with their slipknot t-shirts and bad eye-make up, sadly it meant I missed Atreyu playing at Rock City, but I think I can live with that, eh?

He's playing Glastonbury this year, so if you have a ticket, you could do an awful lot worse than go and check him out... especially if he does that encore....

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

give me real, don't give me fake

The Labour Party unleashed their manifesto onto the world today. I covered the launch of the Conservative manifesto the other day, so in the interests of balance, I feel I ought to let you all know what the Government are planning for their next term in office.

The Conservative Party manifesto was actually more of a pamphlet than anything else, consisting of 32 rather policy-light pages. By comparison, Blair's "Little Red Book" weighs in at a hefty 112 pages - so by my reckoning the Labour Party have about 80 pages more policies than the Tories, right?

I don't know why they've bothered with so much volume.... all they need to say could be said in less than a page:

"We are the Labour Party. We have been in Government since 1997 and we have made a great deal of changes and reforms since then. We won't bore you with the details. We've also taken the country into an expensive and unjustified war in Iraq that you probably opposed. Get over it. Let's face it: we could do nothing for the next month, let the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats get on with it on their own, and you'd still return us to power with a comfortable majority on 5th May. Hey Gordon - Let's play...my serve!"

Sadly, that would probably be enough.

Here's a proper analysis of the manifesto, if you're interested.

It's all a bit depressing really, and I can't face it.


(thanks to the marvellous website "Celebrities Playing Table Tennis" for the picture... now there's a concept for a website!)


Update: I'm just back from seeing Rufus Wainwright tonight, and I'll post a review at some point tomorrow, as I'm too tired now and my bed is calling me.... suffice it to say that he was very good, but I don't think his audience gets out very often.... more tomorrow. Nighty-night kids.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

She's gotta heavy heart that beats to the rhythm of a different song

I had an email from an old friend of mine the other day; he was complaining about feeling tired because he had been up late playing with his Star Wars Lego.

He's 30 years old.

He's married.

I hope he never changes.

Good work Des!


I'm going to Korea in May for my brother's wedding (part II), and there are two things on my mind:

1) I'll be there when The Revenge of the Sith comes out. Are the Koreans a culture that dubs films, or one that subtitles films?

2) I wonder if I'll be able to get some quality merchandise on the cheap? I could use another lightsabre....

Are we the generation that will never grow up?

Monday, April 11, 2005

hello darkness my old friend....

I've decided that it is the duty of this blog to provide some impartial reportage on the forthcoming UK General Election. I'm going to start by giving you the lowdown on the policies contained within the Conservative Party manifesto, which was launched today.

In case you aren't familiar with the intricacies of a British General election, the manifesto is the crucial document launched by every party at the start of their campaign: it outlines the policies that would form the cornerstone of the party if they were to win the election and form the next Government.

So what are the key planks of Conservative Party policy? What could we expect to find if Michael Howard wakes up in 10 Downing Street on 6th May?

  • A team of Alchemists will work night and day to turn enough base metal into gold to pay off the national debt and to fill the black hole in our balance sheets
  • The Danegeld will no longer be paid to the Vikings
  • The streets of London will be stripped of their gold paving to finance the provision of an extra turnip for every hut
  • Rome will be petitioned for extra clergy to school the children of the landed classes
  • One Latin Bible for every village
  • Unpaid serfdom for every child from the age of 4 (to be called 'apprenticeships')
  • Everyone will be entitled to unlimited blood letting, on demand
  • More & better leeches for all
Law & Order
  • Trial by Combat or Trial by Ordeal to be available to all (at the discretion of the local nobility, who retain the right to arbitrary and brual retribution for all crimes, real and imagined, at all times)
  • Every citizen to have the right to kill anyone they don't recognise in their village after nightfall, as long as they use a halberd
  • The king is annointed by God and is accountable only to him
  • The Prime Minister is similar, only less accountable to God
Foreign Policy
  • At least one invasion of mainland Europe to be launched per annum
  • A Crusade to be launched to recover the Holy Land during the lifetime of the Parliament
  • Will be burnt at the stake
Are you thinking what we're thinking?

Saturday, April 09, 2005

...except maybe some wood

Bonjour tout le monde, je suis revenu.

...and whilst we're speaking french, let's quote Jean-Paul Sartre:

"L'enfer c'est les autres".

Hell is other people.

Having just arrived back from Gatwick airport, I can entirely agree. I had a nice relaxing holiday, thanks for asking. Well, relaxing in the sense that it was nice to get away from everything for a few days; to not go to work; to have a break from the triathlon training programme - that kind of thing. Not relaxing in the sense that pretty much every muscle in my body aches, I have a sunburnt nose and a series of blisters on my feet from my ski-boots (surely some kind of instrument of torture, rather than footwear, right?). Apart from that, great. It's spring in the Alps, so it was gloriously warm. Usually this is pretty bad news for the snow, but actually it was pretty good, and it was snowing when we left this morning.

I've not skiied in the French Alps before. Goodness me, the people are posh though, what what?

Armani lift pass lanyards? check.
More Prada sunglasses than you can shake a stick at? certainly.
Nasty orange tans (with panda eyes)? uh-huh.
White all-in-one ski suits? definitely.

Excellent fun though. And the fact that we won the pub quiz has very little bearing on my opinion..... although we did win (comfortably, of course). There was an intros round as well, played on a guitar by one of the reps. Everyone found "Golden Touch" hard, for some reason, and mystifyingly they all struggled with "Johnny B Goode" as well (dur, only one of the most famous and influential riffs ever), although I have to admit that I missed "The Sultans of Swing"... ah well.

Did I mention we won?

Anyway. Good holiday...... until the flight home.

Breakfast was at 04:45 and the bus for Lyon airport left at 05:30. A little distressing perhaps, but not the end of the world, and I was able to doze for the whole 3 hour transfer whilst listening to Coldplay, Athlete and some Bowie ('ch-ch-ch-ch changes....'). Nice.

The airport itself is nothing special - pretty functional - but nothing to cause undue distress; our flight had even been brought forward by half an hour, for heaven's sake. Yeah, it wasn't brilliant that there was only one guy selling coffee, and that the flight was called just before C. hit the front of the queue, but to be honest that was more amusing than anything else.

So what was the problem?

I'll give you the highlights and try and save you the ranting:

- being herded onto a bus like cattle and being driven 10m to the plane
- small seats
- unexplained delay for an hour after boarding
- screaming children
- no, seriously... screaming children.... one child wailed (no tears) for about 45 minutes and no one said or did anything. 45 sodding minutes? Was I the only person who wanted to hurl the little git and his selfish parents off the flight immediately? Do they understand how piercing that noise is? Can't they hear it?
- baggage reclaim.... so it makes perfect sense for everyone to grab a trolley and stand right up against the conveyer belt so that no one can see anything and we all stand there trying to see if our bags are coming through and then if we are lucky enough to see them, having to clamber over the immobile idiots and their bags to grab them before they disappear into airport hell forever.

Tense, moi?

Are people just getting ruder, or is this behaviour encouraged by the way we are treated like cattle by the airlines?

Bit of both, I reckon.

[deep breath]

To hell with it. I'm still relaxed.

[drags fingernails across the desk....]

Earworms of the week.

10. 'Changes' - David Bowie
Last song syndrome... I was listening to "Hunky Dory" on my iPod when we pulled into Lyon airport. Great sax.

9. 'Wires' - Athlete
This was all over French radio. I kept hearing it coming out of bars and shops. The French have some taste in music. Who knew?

8. 'The Chicken Song' - Spitting Image
I learnt how to ski in Austria when I was about 13 and on a school trip. Our ski instructor was a cheerful chap called Gary, and we taught him how to sing this over the course of the week. Bizarrely, he loved it, and sang it constantly. Naturally, this came to mind as I meandered down mountains last week. All together now, "hold a chicken in the air, stick a deckchair up your nose..." Are you with me? no?

7. 'Somewhere Only We Know' - Keane
I heard this drifting across the piste from somewhere as I was skiing down. Naturally, I immediately downloaded it into my brain. A great song. I heard a couple of other Keane songs whilst I was out there as well.... French radio is clearly much better than its reputation would imply. I didn't hear Plastique Bertrand once.

6. 'The Israelites' - Desmond Dekker
Makes me think of an advert for Vitalite ('oooooh, ooooooh vitalite'), but is a fantastic song, no?

5. 'In My Place' - Coldplay
It's so simple - right from the little drum and cymbal intro, then on into the plaintive little guitar melody...and that's before Chris Martin comes in with his lovesick puppy voice. It was love at first listen... Glastonbury 2005 is theirs for the taking, and I can't wait.

4. 'All My Life' - The Foo Fighters
A lot of snowboard dudes about the place, so this kind of thing was probably inevitable. I heard it in a bar and it stuck right on in there. Dave Grohl certainly knows how to rock, but damn he also knows his way around a melody too. Who knew drummers could be so talented?

3. 'Do-Re-Me' - Sound of Music OST
What else do people sing on a chairlift at 3000m?

2. 'My Favourite Things' - Sound of Music OST
... ok. This.

1. 'Something for the Weekend' - The Divine Comedy
Something to do with the Scott Walker-esque baritone and the absurdity of the lyric. I found a live version of this when I was ripping the "Everybody Knows" single, and it's been lodged in my head ever since. Oh I say....

So how have you all been?

Friday, April 08, 2005

but the fire is so delightful...

A quick moment in an internet cafe, and I have one thing I want to say to you all to prove it hasn't all been a blur of apres ski. It's more of a question actually:

Les chaussettes de l'archiduchesse sont-elles sèches ou archi-sèches?

home tomorrow....

Answers on a postcard.

Friday, April 01, 2005

but we know where he's coming from and we know the score

Earworms of the week - the songs that have been troubling my brain by circling round and round and round.... Bit of an odd mix this week as I've just ripped a load of old CD singles, and some of them have got stuck.

10. 'Footloose' - Kenny Loggins
Only the first 20 seconds or so... but Jesus H. Christ that's enough. Are you happy now? Are you?

9. 'Unconditional' - The Bravery
Great circular guitar riff at the beginning, and because every year should sound like 1985.

8. 'Black Coffee' - All Saints
I sometimes worry that my music collection deals almost exclusively with skinny, white, male guitar bands. Then I found this little pop gem in with my CD singles. It's almost enough to allow me to forgive them for murdering 'Under the Bridge'. Almost.

7. 'Life on Mars' - David Bowie
Could have been any number of classic Bowie songs (see recent album purchases below). This one is my favourite Bowie song ever, I think. Mickey Mouse has grown up a cow, you know.

6. 'Sleep' - Marion
Ah. Obscure indie bands of the 90s. I've no idea what happened to Marion, but this is a coruscating little number. "In a sense we're exactly the same, because we're both so different in every way".

5. 'Philadelphia' - Neil Young
This was one of the singles buried in my collection, but has resurfaced here thanks to Ka. Bruce Springsteen's is probably the feem-toon most people remember, but this is surely the better song. Young's reed-thin voice sounds so tremulous and fragile that it might break. Beautiful song.

4. 'Ghostbusters' - Ray Parker Jr
Because none of you have managed to convince me that this is not in fact the greatest theme tune to a film ever written. Brilliant. Also here because this is such a great feelgood record, and reminds me of an excellent Xmas dinner and singsong. Damnit, and because busting makes me feel good.

3. 'Rebel Rebel' - Seu Jorge
From "The Life Aquatic" Soundtrack. Who knew that Classic Bowie would sound so good performed in Portuguese? Mind you, the songs are so good, they probably sound good in the original Martian (because he is an alien, isn't he?)

2. 'Nice Guy Eddie' - Sleeper
I dug out my old Sleeper album ('Smart') and gave it a listen the other day and it was much, much better than I remembered it. Louise Wener had talents other than providing soundbites for the NME, although I think in the end that obsured everything else. This is off their other album, and I downloaded it from Itunes the other day. A credit should probably go out to Lord Bargain at this point... it was on in his car when we went to see Athlete the other week, and that's probably where it sunk into my subconscious.

1. 'Ladykillers' - Lush
I've had this single for about a decade and I'm still not bored of it (even if the first line is so horribly evocative of the whole Britpop era...). I'm not 100% sure what they're banging on about, as I'm still not certain that the lyrics entirely make sense... but I love it anyway. Whatever they're saying, they certainly sound like they mean it. I've just listened to it three times in a row as I write this, and it still sounds fresh. It's that kind of a song. Great single.

Couple of CD purchases I forgot to update you on... all springing out of my refound obsession with David Bowie and the brilliance of "The Life Aquatic".

- The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou - OST
- Hunky Dory - David Bowie
- The Rise & Fall of Ziggy Stardust... - David Bowie
- Aladdin Sane - David Bowie


I'm on holiday now for a week - setting off at the absurdly anti-social time of 02:10 to get down to Gatwick airport for a 07:00 flight tomorrow morning. I'm off skiing in Courchevel, so should have plenty of opportunity to practice my burgeoning fluency in nonsense french. I don't think I'll be able to blog, but I'm sure you'll be able to contain your disappointment and soldier on in my absence...

So all that remains to be said is:

Au Revoir, mes amis - le singe est dans le jardin avec Yvette et l'eglise est dans la poubelle. Je suis un blaireau. A bientôt!